Preparing the Left Elevator

I managed to get a TON of work done tonight, and worked a straight 4 hours on the section of plans titled “Preparing the Left Elevator”.  In a nut shell, I completely build entire left elevator, and have it disassembled so all the parts can be deburred, and the edges finished.  After that, I will shoot them in AKZO primer and then they will be ready to be dimpled and riveted. This is going to be a long post, since I got so much work done tonight, so hang on!

We start off the right elevator in pretty much the same fashion as we did the left, since they are almost identical (except for the trim tab). It starts by rounded off the top and bottom edges of the E-00001A doubler so that it will nest correctly in the E-702 spar channel.

After that, we cleco on the E-610PP and E-611PP doublers on the back side of the spar, as well as the E-00001A and E-00001B doublers on the front side.  These doublers are a part of SB-14-02-15  which was included in my tail kit.  Once all the doublers are clecod on, we match drill them to the E-702 spar.

After that, we straighten the flanges and flute both the E-703 and E-704 ribs, and then cleco E-703 end rib and E-704 counterbalance rib together, and then match drill them.  This takes a little time as I had to flute them in several places to get them straight and flush with each other.  In the end, they cooperated and fit together snugly.  Then Vans has us fit them to E-702 spar and match drill the holes to the spar. Once they are drilled, we remove the rib assembly from the spar to fit the lead counterweight.

This is where I messed up on the previous elevator and had to order a new E-713 counterbalance skin, and another E-714 counterweight.  That cost about $40, and they showed up at my house today! Talk about perfect timing! It takes a little bit of filing on the lead counter weight to get it to match the curvature of the E-713 skin and to fit snuggly.  I also double checked to make sure I had the orientation correct so I don’t repeat my mistake from last time 🙂 Once they counterweight has been shaved and filed down to fit good, we assemble the lead counterweight, the E-713 counterweight skin, and the E-703/E-704 rib assemblies to drill the counterweight.

When drilling lead, I decided to use a #30 drill bit in the pre-punched holes as a pilot, and follow it with the proper size #12 bit, using LOTS of Boelube to keep the bits lubricated. Clamping the assembly to the corner of my work table made this much easier to do as well.  I used my electric drill instead of the pneumatic because I need slow speed with lots of torque to drill the lead.  This worked out great, and the holes were straight and perfect.

Now that the counterweight is drilled, we remove it from the assembly and set it aside for now, this makes assembling the skeleton much easier to deal with. We then re-cleco the E-703/E-704/E-713 assembly to the E-702 spar.  Then we cleco on the E-705 root rib and match drill it using a #40 bit to the E-702 spar.

Its skining time now!  I clecod on the E-701-L skin to the newly built skeleton, making sure to keep the E-701 skin on TOP of the E-713 counterbalance skin. Next, Vans has us remove the clecos holding on the E-705 root rib to the E-702 spar, so that we can fit the WD-605-1-L elevator horn and match drill it to the E-705 and E-702.  I match drilled these to a #30 size drill.

Once we have the elevator horn drilled, I inserted the little E-606PP spar into the skin, and clecoed it to the E-705 root rib and E-701 skin. I also had to match drill the E-606PP to the E-705.  At this point, I have my entire right elevator assembled and ready to be match drilled.  I matched drilled the E-701-R skin to its skeleton using a #40 bit per the plans.

You guessed it…its time to disassemble the elevator so that I can deburr, dress the edges, prime, and dimple them.  At this point, I noticed that my cleco bucket was running pretty low:

After getting the elevator disassembled, I decided to continue on and finish up the last few little easy steps in this section of the plans.  I had to machine countersink the E-714 lead counterweight to match the dimple and screw, so I did this with my deburring tool, which worked nice. Then I used a #10 dimple die to dimple the E-713 counterweight skin to match. I checked all these with the screw to make sure it looked great.

Now, this is where it gets a little tricky.  The little E-606PP spar needs to be machine counter sunk on the top to mate with the dimples in the skin.  We machine countersink it because we don’t want the protruding dimple on the underside of the spar because the trim tab hinge gets riveted to it on the bottom. However, we are able to dimple the BOTTOM of the E-606PP spar so it will mate with the skin dimple, and because there isn’t anything that will interfere with the dimple protrusion on the spar.  This drawing makes it easier to see:

So, I deburred all the holes, and chucked up my countersink cage in my drill and countersunk every hole along the TOP of the E-606PP, checking each one with a rivet to make sure it was flush.  Then I used my squeezer and a 3/32 dimple die to dimple the BOTTOM of the E-606PP, except for the last two holes.  They were too tight to fit the squeezer, and the spar was too thick for the pop rivet dimple die, so I just machine countersunk the last two holes on the bottom.  Simple and easy solution!

Then I machine countersunk the two holes that attach the E-606PP to the E-705 root rib, orienting the countersink so that the flush rivet will go in with the flush head on the aft face of the E-606PP.  This will eliminate any chance of interference during the trim tab travel, and make it look nice and neat in this area. The plans said we could do the countersink on either side of the hole, so I chose to do it this way. Then, I dimpled the holes for the E-705 to R-702.  Vans calls for this to be machine countersunk, due to the sharp bend on the E-705 root rib, making it hard to dimple, but I was able to get my dimple dies in there and squeeze them without any problems. We have to use flush rivets here because the WD-605-1-L elevator horn fits over this intersection.  Lastly, the only thing left in this section is to bevel the edges of the E-713 counterweight skin so that the E-701 will overlap it very smoothly where they meet.  I used my file to work the edges into a nice bevel where the two skins meet.  This worked out very nicely on the right elevator, so I used the same technique here.

With that, the right elevator has been assembled and ready for all the parts to be dressed.  In the next few sessions I will work on deburring all the holes (so many holes deburred at this point!), dressing all the edges with the scotchbrite wheel and then priming them.  Follow that with dimpling and final assembly!  Here is the photo album from tonights work:

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Hours Worked: 4

Riveting the Right Elevator

Its time to rivet up a control surface! The right elevator is ready to be closed up and riveted.  I have decided that I am going to rivet the bottom side of the skins, and leave the top side clecod down for now.  This way, I can hold off on ProSealing the trailing edge stiffeners until I have the rudder, and both elevators ready for ProSeal.  This will save me from having to waste so much of this stuff, and I can get all the ProSeal work done in one session.

So, tonight I begin with riveting on the E-713 counterbalance skin to the E-701 skin. We do this because two of the rivets would be enclosed inside the skin once we insert the skeleton, and not be accessible.  So, we rivet those two rivets with the skeleton out of the skin at first.  I used my squeezer to set these rivets.

Once those two rivets are set, its time to shape the counterweight.  I filed down the sharp corners to match the contours of the E-713 skin, and also filed down around the edges so that it would fit in the skin easier. The we loose fit the E-714 counterweight into the skin, and then the skeleton assembly gets inserted into the skin.  Its a tight fit trying to wiggle it all together, especially around the counterweight.  Eventually I got the skeleton all situated into the skin and then I clecoed every hole to make sure it didn’t twist or shift.

Now its time to rivet! I thought it’d be best to start at the counterweight and work my way up the E-713 skin, and all the way down the tip of the end rib.  There’s a few different lengths of AN423AD3 rivets being used here due to the different overlapping skins, so I made sure to use the right one in each hole.  I had previously lapped the edge of the skins so that they would sit nice and flush after riveting, so I didn’t have to do that here.  Once I had the end rib riveted, I worked my way down the spar and finally to the E-702 end rib. I was able to use my squeezer on all these, so they came out perfect.

Having the bottom skin riveted on completely, I left the top skin just clecod for now.  I will come back to it later on, ProSeal the stiffeners and close it up. The last few steps on this elevator is to finish attaching the counterweight and torquing it.  I dug through my parts, got the bolts, washer and nut that the plans called for and used them on the counterweight.  Then I used my beam torque wrench to measure the drag on the nylon lock nut (which was 5 inch/lbs), and added that to the the 20-25 inch/lbs that the plans calls for as the torque spec on these type of bolts.  In total, I torqued them down to right at 30 inch/lbs total and then use some CrossCheck (Torque seal) to mark the nuts and screw heads as being torqued.  This CrossCheck also makes it easy to inspect the bolts to make sure they have not vibrated loose.  The paint will crack if the bolt or nut has turned.

Thats all for tonight! A little over 2 hours total, and the right elevator is 95% completed, and will go back on the shelf until I am ready to ProSeal everything.  Here’s all the photos I took tonight:

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Hours Worked: 2.25

Riveting the Right Elevator Skeleton

After taking short break from the priming session, I dug back into riveting together the right elevator skeleton.  This will give the primer on those doublers some time to dry. AKZO dries super quick, so by the time I get ready for them they should be ready for me 🙂   Per the plans, Vans has us start out by riveting together the E-703 and E-704 ribs which creates the counterbalance assembly  This goes easy enough with a squeezer and some AN470AD4-4 rivets.

Next up the plans has us rivet the E-709 end rib to the E-702 spar.  I had to take caution here, because we use AN426AD3-4 rivets, which need to be dimpled and sit flush on the front side of the spar so that the WD-605-1-R elevator horn will sit flush against the spar.  I was able to set these rivets with the flush set in my squeezer and they ended up nice and flush against the spar.

Then the plans has us rivet on the E-703/704 assembly to the E-702 spar.  This is where things got frustrating.  I was able to set the two rivets for the E-703 end rib with the squeezer. However, the two rivets for the E-704 were in a much tighter spot and I couldn’t get to then with the squeezer.  So, I drug out the rivet gun and bucking bar, but the straight 1/8 rivet set would not line up with the shop head of the rivet because of the gun body, so I had to use the offset 1/8 rivet set.  The first rivet I was able to set pretty well with the gun and bucking bar.  The second one?  Yeah, not so much.  I had to drill it out and try again.  Luckily, the second time went better than the first and I got the rivet set.

I then decided to skip back up to the doublers and platenuts on the E-702 spar.  These were fairly easy to do, I just double checked that I had the right length rivets in the right holes, as we use three different lengths in these sections.  I also double checked I had the orientation of the platenuts correct as well, and then used the squeezer to set al these rivets.  I love the way it came out!

Finally, I decided to rivet on the WD-605-1-R elevator horn to finish off the skeleton.  Again, double checking the orientation, because it is possible to put this part on upside down if you’re not careful.  Then, I riveted in using AN470AD4-4 rivets and my squeezer.

This finishes up the right elevator skeleton, and in the next session, I think I will rivet the skin to the elevator, but I am still debating on saving that portion until I get ready to pro-seal the rudder trailing edge.  This way I can use the same ProSeal to bond the trailing edges of the stiffeners of the elevators. We’ll see how it goes.  Here’s the photos from tonights session:

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Google Photos Album link:

Hours Worked: 3


Rudder Final Assembly Continued

Tonight I continued working on the rudder final assembly.  I stopped by Home Depot and picked up some 1.5″ aluminum angle so that I could use it when I bond the trailing edge. It came in an 8 foot length, so I trimmed to be just a few inches longer than the trailing edge, finished out the rough edge on that cut and then marked the center of one side of the angle to help align my drill holes. I laid one of the rudder skins on flat against the angle and the lined up the mark I made with the pre-drilled holes in the skin.  Then I match drilled a hole to start and clecoed the skin and angle right into my work table.  Then, to keep from over-drilling the skin, I just drilled every two holes all the way through and clecoed.  For the remaining holes, I simply ran the bit for a few seconds to start a hole using the clecoed skin as a guide, and then pulled the skin off and finished drilling the holes through the angle.  I then laid the skin back over my holes and clecoed it in a few spots to make sure it was still lining up, and it was.

Then I set the angle aside and kept on working on the rudder itself.  I decided to fit the bottom R-710 rudder horn brace to make sure I could rivet everything in place with the brace installed, and luckily my squeezer will fit in the tight space of the horn brace and set the rivets easily.  I decided to use the AN470 rivets instead of the blind rivets that is optional for this part.  I used my squeezer to set the rivets and left the ones that the skin rivets too for later.  You can see in the photo below that the access hole in the R-710 horn brace gives just enough clearance for the squeezer to get in and set the rivets along the bottom rib.

After that, I decided to get the trailing edge ready for assembly before I cleco on the skins.  First I used the DRDT-2 to dimple the trailing edge of the skins, and the I used a new jig from Cleaveland Tools that makes countersinking the trailing edge wedge a breeze!  This thing is dead simple, its shaped to fit the angle of the trailing edge wedge, so that the working surface sits flush and allows all of the countersink cage to sit flush while countersinking.  This is something a lot of builders have a hard time with, and struggle to make a good jig, so Cleaveland made one from a solid piece of billet.  Here’s how it looks:

You can see how the trailing edge wedge sits perfectly in the groove, and the holes in the jig allow the nib on the countersink cutter to travel completely through.  This little $36 tool made this job so simple I was glad to have it.  I had both sides of my wedge done in about 30 minutes, counting the time I took to adjust the depth.


With the trailing edge wedge done, I was ready to cleco on the skins and make sure everything still aligned right before riveting them on.  I clecoed on both sides and then inserted the trailing edge wedge and clecoed it together.  My rudder is still in alignment and its looking great.  However, while I was sitting down admiring my work, I started questioning when I should insert the rod end bearings for the rudder mounts.  They thread into the plate nuts I installed into the spar, but the plans has some specific lengths they need to be, and it looks like its measured from the inside of the spar to the center of the hole in the rod end bearing.   Heres what I am talking about:

Of course, with the skins on, I wont be able to measure from the inside of the spar, and it looks like its calling for a distance of 51/64 in this particular instance.  So, I am going to ask in the forums if I should go ahead and install those rod end bearings before I rivet on the skins.  So, with that little dilema, I decided to call it a night and wait until I get some advice on how to proceed before I make it harder on myself down the road.  This is a good stopping point anyways!

Here’s an album of all the photos from tonights work:

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Hours Worked: 3.75

Final Assembly of the Rudder

Well, I had some downtime, and didn’t get much done on the plane since I sprayed the primer.  I wanted to let the parts sit and the primer cure for a few days, but I wasn’t planning on this long 🙂  None the less, I got back on the ball today, and got some work done.  I want to finish up the rudder to the point of riveting the trailing edge, and then I will hold off on the Proseal until I need it for the elevator stiffeners as well.  So, lets build a rudder skeleton!

The work started off by gathering up and marking all the parts for the rudder.  Some of the marks were covered up with the primer, so I needed to find all the parts again.  I also took a little time to read the plans and get re-familiar with the rudder.  I had already deburred the parts before priming, so I needed to dimple the skins, spar and ribs. This went pretty quick with the DRDT-2, and using the pop-rivet dimple die tool to get the very end of the ribs.  I am still not sure how the heck I am going to rivet those things.

With all the parts deburred, dimpled, primed and ready to assemble, I began the work of final assembly on the rudder skeleton.  We start out  by riveting all of the reinforcement plates, R606PP, R607PP, and R608PP to the rudder spar R902. I also riveted on the K1000-6 nut plates to the proper sides of the rear spar.  I decided to leave these unpainted, since they have corrosion protection already applied.

Once the reinforcement plates are riveted on, I moved towards the bottom of the rudder and worked on the lower rib and rudder horn.  The R-904 has several different pieces that all fit together on the spar to form the lower assembly.  I attached the R-904 to the R-902 rear spar, fitted the R-917 shim, and finally fitted the R-405PD rudder horn with clecos.  Then I attached the K1000-6 plate nut to the assembly and riveted everything together.  There are several different lengths of rivets in this section, so I had to pay close attention and double check each rivet before setting it.

Now that the bottom of the skelton was done, I moved on to finish the top. Vans has us rivet the R-912 counterbalance rib to the rear spar, and then fit the R-913 counterbalance skin over the rib.  I attached the skin with clecos due to its thickness and the complex curve it has.  Then once I was happy the counterbalance skin was fitted nicely, I removed one cleco at a time and riveted it in place. It came out looking great!

The last step on this skeleton was to install the lead counterbalance weight.  I had pre-drilled and countersunk it a few weeks ago, but I still needed to do a little trimming to get the counterweight to fit around the rivet tails that were now sticking inside the skeleton.  I didn’t have to remove much material, so the balance shouldn’t be affected.  Then I secured the weight with the AN509 screws and torqued them down to 30 inch/lbs.  This is the 25 inch/lbs that is called for, plus the drag of the nylon lock nut, which I measured at about 5 inch/lbs.  I followed that up with a little torque seal to mark that I had them torqued, and also to show in case the screws start to work loose.

I called it a night at this point. I have a full rudder skeleton, and the next step is to cleco on the skins and start getting them ready to rivet, and then place the end rib on the top.  In the next session, I will cleco on the skins and make sure every thing is still lined up, and then use one of the skins as a guide to drill some aluminum angle for the trailing edge.

Heres all the photos from tonights work:

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And the Google Photos link:

Hours Worked: 4.5

Assembling the Right Elevator Skeleton

Tonight I assembled the skeleton for the right elevator, and then match drilled the parts.  There is a service bulletin SB 14-02-05 for the mounting brackets on the elevator spars that was released by Vans a while back.  Luckily, my kit had all the new parts included to address this service bulletin, and tonight I fitted those parts to the elevator spar.

It starts out by separating the E-00001A and B doubler plates and radiusing their edges to fit into the E-702 spar.  I used my file to get the radius just right, and then finished off the rough edges.  Then I fitted the doublers, the E-610PP and E-611PP plates to the E-702 spar, clecoed them along with the nutplates for the mounting bolts and then match drilled everything.

After the doublers were finished up, the plans have us working on the E-703 end rib and E-704 counter balance rib and fitting the lead counterweight to them.First I fitted the two ribs together and match drilled them.

Once they were fitted together, I clecoed on the E-713 counterbalance skin so that I could match drill the lead counterweight using a #12 drill bit. Drilling this big hunk of lead took a lot of Boelube on the drill bit, and pulling the bit out frequently to clean the chips out of the hole.

Once I had the holes drilled, I machine countersunk by hand the lead weight and then dimpled the holes on the E-713 skin so the flush head AN screws would fit snugly.

The last step for tonight was to fit the E-709 rib to the inner part of the spar to create the skeleton for the elevator.  Then match drill the rib to the spar.  I fitted the outside end rib assembly to the spar to finish the elevator skeleton and did a quick test fit with the skin to make sure everything was looking great.

I stopped here for the night, because I need to bend the trailing edge of the elevator skin, and then back rivet the stiffeners to the skin before I can start match drilling it to the skeleton. I think I am going to setup for some priming this weekend, because I have a stack of parts that are collecting on the shelves waiting on priming.  I like to prime in batches so I hold all my parts up to a point and then spray them all at once.  It’s looking like its getting time to prime!

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Link to the Google Photos Album:

Hours Worked: 2.5


Assembling the Rudder Skeleton

After a short break, I started on the second work session for tonight.  I had finished up the rudder stiffeners prior, and now its time to construct the rudder skeleton.  The assembly starts off by clecoing R-904 rib to the spar R-902.  Once its clecoed, we need to wide the hole in R-904 to a 3/8″ hole to match the hole in the spar.  This is where a hinge bolt goes in the future. I used a step-bit (Uni-bit) to widen the hole, which worked nicely.

Next I fabricated the R-917 shim from some of the scrap aluminum that Vans ships with the kit.  There isn’t many parts you have to fabricate, but this one is pretty simple. The plans includes a full scale template of the part.  After I had it cut to shape, I rounded the corners and dressed all the edges smooth.

Now that we have the shim made up, we can cleco on the rudder horn and being match drilling everything into place.  The rudder horn required a bit of grinding to get it to fit snuggly inside the R-904 rib, which is called for in the plans.  I used my bench grinder to get a rough shape that would clear, and then worked the edges down using a file.  Once I had the edges rounded, I smoothed it all out on the scotchbrite wheel.  It’s sooth as silk and fits perfect, even though this took quite a bit of time.

I clecoed on the R-606PP, R-902 spar, R-917 shim, R-904 rib and finally the R-405PD rudder horn to the bottom of the spar. I also went ahead and clecod on the other two doublers, R-607PP and R-608PP.  I then match drilled them all using a #30 bit.

I then moved on to fluting and straightening the R-903 tip rib and the R-912 counterbalance ribs.  These parts have some pretty aggressive curves punched into them, so they needed quite a bit of work to get perfectly straight and square.  I used a metal rule to check that the holes were all lined up.  Then I clecoed them both onto the R-902 spar, and match drilled them to the spar with a #30.

This is where the lead counterbalance will go, and there is a .032″ thick piece of skin that wraps around them to form the counterbalance.  The plans has us mount that skin and then match drill everything to a #40.  This took a little bit of work and fiddling to get the thick skin to mold around the ribs just right to line up the holes, but eventually I got it clecoed on.  Then match drilled all the holes to a #40 as called out in the plans.

This was a good point to stop, as the next steps in the plans has us clecoing on the rudder skins, which I do not have ready yet.  I still need to prime them.

Here’s the photos from this work session:

Google Photo Album link:

Hours Worked: 3